Every Porsche 550 is special. But examples with period race history and long-term single ownership are just a little more special than the rest. Porsche 550 s/n 550-0036 has all that and more, and it’s heading for sale at Bonhams’ Amelia Island sale in March.
The 550 was the first true racing car from Porsche — it introduced the ladder steel tube frame stiffened by aerodynamic body panels, which was the first semi-monocoque design. The complex four-cam 1,500cc engine was both light and powerful, making 110 hp, which was more than enough to turn the featherweight 550 into a giant killer. In 1955, when this car was built, Porsche took a first, second, and third place class victory at Le Mans and placed fourth overall — not a bad debut for the car that would help steer the company’s direction into serious, lightweight racers.
This car was originally sold to German racer Theo Helfrich of Frankfurt, who raced it in Europe for the next several years at events such as Hockenheim, Avus and the Nurburgring. Helfrich eventually sold the car to a U.S. serviceman, who brought the car home to the Midwest and raced it in SCCA competition through the mid-1960s at places such as Road America. In 1972, Dr. Gary Quast bought the car and brought it to Florida.
Quast kept the car for decades, and during his ownership, he initiated a five-year restoration performed by Willison Werkstatt. Today, the car is fitted with a period-correct Billy Doyle-built four-cam type 547 unit that’s a single digit off from the original block stamping. The car has its original gearbox, and since restoration, it’s covered fewer than 100 miles.
“We are immensely honored to be entrusted with the sale of this spectacular 550 Spyder direct from half a century of ownership,” said Jakob Greisen, Bonhams Vice President and Head of US Motoring. “This highly authentic example of these spectacular iconic Porsche sports racing cars is ready for its next chapter of custodianship and will be welcomed at the finest international Concours and driving events around the globe such as the Mille Miglia.
“I have had the pleasure of driving one of these on the Colorado Grand; it is indeed a thrilling experience which few other cars – new or old – can offer, and is as pure as driving gets.”
Bonhams Amelia Island auction takes place March 3 at the Fernandina Beach Golf Club. Bids will be accepted both in person and online, and the sale will be streamed live via Bonhams website and on the Bonhams app.